4 Ukraine Troops Killed as Showdown Looms in Slovyansk
Separatist source claims at least 20 pro-Russia militants also killed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2014 4:53 AM CDT
People gather outside the burnt trade union building in Odessa yesterday.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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(Newser) – More bloodshed could be on the way in Ukraine, where security forces have surrounded the pro-Russia stronghold of Slovyansk and cut off the main road into the city. Ukraine's Interior Ministry says that four troops have been killed in the city, where pro-Russia militants shot down two military helicopters last week, the BBC finds. Gun battles are taking place outside the city; Russia's Interfax news agency is reporting that at least 20 pro-Russian militants have been killed. Ukrainian troops have also reportedly taken a nearby television tower, according to Voice of America. More:

  • In Odessa, where a blaze killed 42 pro-Russia activists Friday, militants stormed a police station yesterday to free nearly 70 activists, Reuters reports. The militants chanted "Russia" and "We will not forgive" as they smashed their way into the police compound.

  • Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says the unrest in Odessa is all part of Moscow's plan to destroy the country. "Russia's aim was to repeat in Odessa what is happening in the east of the country," he says.
  • As in other cities where pro-Russia militants are strong, there appears to be plenty of support for activists among the police in Odessa, the Guardian finds. Witnesses say the police offered no resistance as militants attacked the station. Yatsenyuk says the region's police chief has been dismissed.
  • Unlike in eastern cities however, Odessa has plenty of pro-Kiev activists willing to battle pro-Russia activists in the streets, reports the New York Times, which notes that the city lies between the Crimean peninsula and the pro-Russian Moldovan region of Transnistria—and Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken to referring to the entire area by its historical name of Novorossiya, or New Russia.